Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ukraine: After the protests, seperatism rises and Geopolitics spillover

The major protest that transformed from Pro European Union financial reform and pro Western sentiments of protesters at Euromaidan aka Maidan into the ousting of a Democratic leader (or coup since Ukrainian Constitution was ignored) for an interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov. The speaker of the Parliament has also been replaced as the first session addresses the possible arrest and charges against Yanukovych for crimes against the protesters. Some 100+ protesters have been killed since the protests and violence began three months ago. More than 400+ people have been injured including both police and protesters. Neo Nazi groups, anti Russian and anti-Semitic right wing protesters some responsible for violence with police are taking credit alongside peaceful protesters for overthrowing Yanukovych and his cabinet. Western countries are nervously observing events in Kiev and the Crimea to keep an eye on Russia's next move concerning Ukraine. Ukraine is crucial to Russia for geopolitical reasons. Russian pipelines run under Ukraine delivering petroleum and natural gas (in the form of Russian giant Gazprom) to Europe. Both natural resources are two of Russia's main exports to its neighbors and far west frienemies. Just as pipelines have been a blessing for fostering Ukrainian-Russian economic relations has been a source of dispute. Ukraine is Russia's closest neighbor that has served as a buffer zone between Russia and Western leaning Baltic and Balkan countries ie Romania, Moldova, Latvia and Estonia. Other than Belarus, Russia has few strong allies on its border. The 1853 Crimean War was the first strategic war Russia lost when it attempted to gain territory lost by the Ottoman Empire. Previous Russian governments were and with Putin are weary of any military maneuvers or political alliances between Western Europe and United States and Ukraine or any other borderland countries. Pro Russian governments and alliances serve as a regional alternative to the NATO alliance across Europe.

Ukraine: History of a Nation Part 1

After the protests, separatism is rising in the Crimea and geopolitics are spilling out

Ukraine at various times, played a role in Russian history as the confederation of Kievan Rus to being the bread basket of the Soviet Union and Russia, home to some of Eastern Europe's largest agricultural lands. Similar to the rest of Ukraine, the region Crimea which coincidentally borders Sochi, Russian province Krasnador and Black Sea has been pulled literally between Russia and Ukraine for centuries.  Historically Crimea was home to Crimean Tatars (Turkish speaking Muslims who are the indigenous people in Crimea) until the 1930s when Josef Stalin began his long project of deporting so called rebellious ethnic minorities from Crimea, North Caucasus and Ukraine to Kazakhstan, Siberia and Central Asian republics. Russian settlers were allowed to relocate to Crimea while the Crimean Tatars were forbidden like the Chechens and Circassians from returning to their homelands. Russians make up the majority of the Crimea today although Crimean Tatars have been slowly returning to the region. Over the past decades, Crimean Russians have demanded that Crimea receive autonomy and recognition of their cultural and linguistic identity with Russia. Ukrainians within Crimea and across the country regard Crimea as part of Ukraine and not Russia. Separatism has been rising in Crimea over the past years as Russian speaking Crimean regard themselves as pro Russian. The tensions between Ukrainians and Russians in Crimea has caused Putin to place the Russian military in Western Russia on high alert during military drills.

Crimean Tatars returning home: On history, culture and politics of Crimea Al Jazeera

Crimean War 1853-1856

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